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Discussion Starter #1
I was shooting some 9mm Steyr rounds when the gun suddenly shattered. I've had lots of guns break before, but never like this- the barrel broke down part of the length of the barrel, and had broken a part out and peeled it back, and the slide had a part broken off and peeled back on the right side- and a part of the left side simply disappeared! The entire break on the barrel and the slide exhibit very strong crystallization, but I'm concerned It could have been a squib- but I can't find any sign of a bulge in the barrel, and there's no rounds stuck in the barrel. Odd. I guess it's also possible that the barrel and slide were suffering metal fatigue. The gun was a 1917 made example, Austrian military, issue stamps for 1917. No import marks, in vg to exc condition. I'll try to post pics. Anyone had this happen before????
 

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The joys of use of vintage old-time collectables.
Kind of like RC airplanes, sometimes they crash or just fly away.
I have no problem visualizing your piece.
It's ruint forever.
Your choice, glad you unharmed.
 

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On the bright side, you are not injured. That is a plus.
 

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Not a good thing you might develop a flinch after a blow up I know I did when my brand new Dan Wesson .357 mag slit the cylinder in half and frame blew up on a 45% angle on the 33rd shot.
 

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I stopped shooting my Lugers for that reason, I felt unsecure at the range with those guns and that sensation took the joy out of the practice-i hanged them on the wall after half of the bolt stop of one flew above my head
 

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My favorite military handgun, just think, if your magazine drops and is damaged and you can’t re-load; not the case with the Steyr Hahn where you just top it up one atta time like it’s a Lee-Enfield…oh the joy.

Hmm. Been told this sort of thing happens with current 9mm Barettas and pre 1970 P38s. Sounds like a hot round (handload, vintage or new?) coupled with metal fatigue. Some of the European ammo really kicks hard (blew off the front and rear sights – see pic) so I switched to cooler Remington ammo instead of the hotter heavier grain (powder and projectile) European stuff…mine’s got a re-chambered 1930s 9mm para barrel.

Very scary stuff…but like the man said, when you play with old toys, they sometimes break.
 

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I'm sorry to hear about your Steyr 1911 but I'm glad that your okay.

You have to remember that there were production shortcuts taken and overworked and under trained personnel involved in wartime production weapons. They were under pressure to get usable weapons to the troops and were not concerned about them being used 100 years or so later. There's always a risk shooting them even with newly made factory ammo.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Blown up 1911, update

Thanks for the kind posts~! ! I was certainly glad I always wear eye and ear protection while shooting... I still don't know where part of the slide went!

I am happy to report that I have another non-matching 1911, which has always been very stiff to operate, at least when first opening the slide. You almost have to press the rear sight against a table and push to get it open sometimes, but it works fine shooting also. I managed to get both pistols field stripped, and after some close examination, discovered the only damaged parts on my 1917 gun appear to be the slide and the barrel. The frame appears totally undamaged, as do all the other parts. I've already tracked down (I hope!) a Slide and Barrel, at Marstar in Canada.

I was shooting some reloads (Hornady, 9mm Steyr cases) that came with the gun. I also got two very old (1937) boxes of DWM commercial 9mm Steyr ammo with the gun, and some strippers which appear to really be from a VZ52 or something newer than this gun, some of which work quite well with this. I have also been thinking of an over pressure, especially of a squib load. In my experience, those almost always ring or bulge the barrel. Not so here, there's no sign of that looking down the barrel or feeling down the outside of the barrel. What there is, though, is a crystalline structure, evidencing metal fatigue, or perhaps the wrong hardness of metal entirely, throughout the broken edges of the barrel, and on all the broken surfaces of the slide. 1917 was a tough year in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, perhaps some pistol parts got over hardened, and approved anyway? Or, as was pointed out, perhaps they weren't bad, but went bad: the gun worked great for it's intended use, defending the Austrian Empire in the Great War- it's been over for a very long time now, after all!

I had not thought of overpressure rounds, as these seemed to be all consistant, but it's possible I had one, but due to the failure of the barrel and slide, I didn't notice any difference in the recoil? I hadn't noticed anything, but the break is huge- perhaps that's why? I'll try to post some pics!

I've had lots of antique gun parts break, from Maxim gun locks, rails, and even feedblock parts, to having the bolt break on a mauser broomhandle. I expected it on the Maxim: those guns have been fired for hundreds of thousands of rounds, and even though heavily built, I expected it. I just didn't expect this!
 

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Three questions:

1) What kind of ammo were you using?
2) How many shots did you fire on this occasion with that ammo before this happened?
3) What does the fired cartridge case look like?

M
 

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In the previous post i seen " ....shooting reloads that came with the pistol...... I have bought weapons that come with reloaded ammo,i always pull it down for the componets. I am not real trusting of other people's reloads since i seen a single action colt come apart shooting reloads.
 

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The parts from Marstar Canada are most likely Romanian.

I had picked up some FN-made 9mm Steyr at a gun show years ago, but nearly every case neck had at least one crack so I was advised to never ever shoot it. The stripper clips are indeed Czech and were intended to work with their VB-26 submchinegun

I wonder if the rounds were reloaded to the pressures of dimensionally-close 9mm Largo, that would KB a Steyr-Hahn no problem.
 

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With all of my relatively rare vintage firearms I reload my own.

I have learned to trust only my own and two other local gunsmiths who I shoot with.

We all load for longevity and enjoyability.

We shoot slow with our treasures.

No silly double tap drills or Elmer Keith memorial loads for us.

I have never lost one of my pistols in this dramatic way.

I loose them once in a while in a trade, but no kabooms here.

I have seen the damage you describe in other semi auto pistols.

If you have old steel with questionable heat treating and have a squib or blockage followed by a regular load, you may crack/shatter instead of bulge. I understand that it is rare to do both at the same location.

You are not alone, others have done it before you.

Learn from your experience and load your own.

Dont trust anyone else with your safety and your prized possessions.
 

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A photo of the fired cartridge case will reveal more about the cause of this mishap than a photo of the remains of the gun.

M
 

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A VERY GOOD REASON NOT TO SHOOT SOMEONE ELSE'S RELOADS!
I would blame the ammo.

Local gun shop has a .455 Mk6 Webley that someone was using .45ACP in. Top strap gone and only HALF of the cylinder remaining.
 

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Barrels are not supposed to be heat treated, although with some auto loaders I'd guess it might be necessary to harden the locking and/or bushing surfaces and a mistake might make it brittle.
That "crystalline" appearance doesn't mean much. Very ductile steels stretch and neck down at a fracture and may look fibrous, jagged and rough, while very brittle steels break straight across but may show a surface pattern. Intermediate steels - most - show combinations.
If it was fatigue you'd expect noticeable signs of failure before a blow up, cracks, even pieces falling off. The safety factors in firearms are so high they can take a lot of fatigue damage before anything really drastic happens.
From your description the only cause could be an extreme overpressure. I believe you had a grossly overloaded cartridge, probably a case full of Bullseye. All too many reloaders use very fast powders to economize, but either stupidity in attempting to get a hot round or the inevitable double stroke error - nobody's perfect - will eventually cause problems.
I dont use reloads, except my own. And I dont use any powder that doesn't at least half fill the case so a double stroke is immediately evident.
 

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You're right about handloading pistol cartridges, there is little room for error with hotter powders...and after nearly blowing up a Nagant I now buy factory ammo for handguns...still handload for the obosolete longuns tho. However the supply of inexpensive 9mm Steyr ammo is not great so I guess most will continue to handload here.

However the cause is still speculative. MGMike is right...you really want to see the cartridge case as this will tell a lot...is the brass balloon bulged? split? cracked?, primer pop back? etc. etc.
 

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You're right about handloading pistol cartridges, there is little room for error with hotter powders...and after nearly blowing up a Nagant I now buy factory ammo for handguns...still handload for the obosolete longuns tho. However the supply of inexpensive 9mm Steyr ammo is not great so I guess most will continue to handload here.

However the cause is still speculative. MGMike is right...you really want to see the cartridge case as this will tell a lot...is the brass balloon bulged? split? cracked?, primer pop back? etc. etc.
I just tried to tell about my experience firing a Roth Steyr which blew a chunk of metal out of the chamber but it some how got "eaten" or went away so I will try it as a new thread and see if that works better.
 

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I just tried to tell about my experience firing a Roth Steyr which blew a chunk of metal out of the chamber but it some how got "eaten" or went away so I will try it as a new thread and see if that works better.
New thread got eaten too. I'll try again, much shorter this time, too bad I thought it made
an interesting story.....
 
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